Reducing sea turtle bycatch in Peruvian artisinal fisheries

Peru hosts five species of sea turtles that feed in its nutrient-rich waters. All five of these have been documented to have high levels of interaction with gillnet and longline fisheries in Peru’s waters and Peru has been identified as a globally significant high-risk zone for sea turtle bycatch.

Bycatch is a significant threat to Eastern Pacific leatherbacks, South Pacific loggerheads and the critically endangered Eastern Pacific hawksbills. Peruvian fisheries are estimated to catch tens of thousands of turtles per year, mainly in gillnet fishery.

Even though conservation efforts in nesting beaches have essentially eliminated threats from human consumption of eggs, experts agree that bycatch is the most serious threat to sea turtles, particularly in their feeding grounds in Chile and Peru.

To address this problem bycatch education devices have been developed to reduce the impact of fisheries on protected marine megafauna such as sea turtles.

LED (light emitting diode) devices attached to fishermen’s nets can reduce bycatch by reducing interactions with gillnets, obtaining successful results.

WWF Peru has been working with a local partner testing the effectiveness of these devices off the coast of Peru (Salaverry and San Jose).

Currently the cost of LEDs is very high and scaling up their use is a big challenge. There are no existing suppliers in Peru.

Restore Our Planet has provided funding to create the local capacity to assemble these devices locally, reducing cost and creating accessibility for the local market. This will be achieved through partners in fishing communities, particularly womens co-operatives.

Additionally WWF will seek to work with Peru’s Marine Research Institute to scale this solution in the ports with the higher rates of bycatch;  increase the post-release survival rates through correct handling and safe release training.

Restore Species

The latest global assessment of the conservation status of 46,556 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish found that one fifth (8,400) are threatened with extinction, from 13% of birds, to 41% of amphibians.

The current wave of species extinctions is considered by scientists as a sixth mass extinction event; it is the very first to be driven by the impact of a single species—human beings—on the world’s biodiversity.

The shocking scale of animal extinction signals a real need to rebalance humankind’s relationship with nature. Some species are under immediate risk of extinction in our lifetimes, even in protected areas, but can be restored to healthy populations if the root threats are tackled.

Restore Species is a landmark partnership to tackle the most pressing direct threats to animal species worldwide.

Convened by Restore our Planet, BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International, TRAFFIC and the Wildlife Conservation Society have come together, scaling up efforts and multiplying their impact so they can restore the future for reptile, mammal and bird species that need support most.

We support the ‘underdog’: we focus on threatened species that currently receive little attention or funding, like Caribbean reptiles, Central Asian wild sheep and goats, and vultures.

The priorities are illegal and unsustainable trade and hunting, and poisoning – Turtles, tortoises, parrots, songbirds, and Helmeted Hornbills in Southeast Asia, and reptiles in the Caribbean are all victims of illegal and unsustainable trapping and trade, which must be controlled.

Visit the Restore Species website.

Anti-poaching dog squad, Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

Kaziranga National Park ( KNP ), a UNESCO World Heritage site provides vital habitat for diverse wildlife and has been protected since the early 20th century.

Kaziranga is the last stronghold of the Indian one-horned rhino, more than two thirds of the worldwide population live in the park.It is also home to the highest density of Bengal tigers in India.

However, this wildlife haven and it`s remarkable inhabitants are under threat. In 2014, 27 rhinos from Kaziranga were lost to poachers; the worst since the 1980`s and 1990`s.

It is vital that these endangered species are given the protection they need and wherever possible poachers are identified and brought to justice.

DSWF has worked with Indian NGO Aaranyak many years to protect endangered species in KSP.

A comprehensive communications system for the forest rangers as well as camera traps and research has been funded by DSWF.

Continuing to strengthen and expand upon current anti-poaching, in 2011 Assam`s first dog squad was established.

Jorba, the first dog, capable of picking up a scent, tracking and bringing down a suspect and trained to detect wildlife products such as tiger skin and bones, ivory and rhino horn.

He was joined by Babli in 2014 with more planned.

Restore Our Planet agreed to provide funding to procure and train another dog and handler providing all necessary food and equipment. We are pleased to say that in 2017 Misky began her training and has now joined the team.

In December 2019 Jorba was retired from active K9 duty after many years of loyalty achieving incredible results for the team. He will however be used to supply emergency scene of crime support whenever needed.

Leatherback turtle protection

Leatherback turtles are named for their shell, which is leather-like rather than hard, like other turtles. They are the largest marine turtle and also one of the most migratory, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Pacific leatherbacks migrate from nesting beaches in the Coral Triangle2 all the way to the California coast to feed on the abundant jellyfish every summer and autumn. Although their distribution is wide, numbers of leatherback turtles have seriously declined during the last century as a result of intense egg collection and fisheries bycatch. Globally, leatherbacks are classed as ‘vulnerable’, but many subpopulations (such as in the Pacific and south-west Atlantic) are critically endangered.

In 2014, a new protected area came into force that will safeguard an important nesting area for leatherback turtles along Colombia’s Caribbean coastline. Beach degradation, pollution and egg harvesting were all threats to the nesting turtles here.The turtle sanctuary prohibits development along the beach and the government provides funding for nest monitoring.

The Playon Playona Acandí Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is 26,232 hectares and is located in the Gulf of Darién. This zone is considered to be one of the main nesting sites for leatherbacks and over 200 turtles are recorded nesting there each year, alongside critically endangered hawksbill turtles.

The turtle’s migratory nature makes this area vital for their conservation throughout the western Caribbean. Mark and recapture studies have shown that some of the females breeding in Colombia spend most of the year in Costa Rica and Mexico. In addition, this area contributes to the protection of other animals that are socially, economically and culturally important, including several species of shrimp and fish.

Hundreds of thousands of marine turtles are accidentally killed every year by fishing gear—caught on dangling hooks or entangled in nets.

Each year, WWF tag marine turtles on key nesting beaches around the world. Satellite telemetry allows researchers to track marine turtles as they swim from place to place. These satellite tags do not harm the turtles and are designed to eventually fall off. The data tells us where important feeding areas are, help us understand migration patterns, and anticipate where turtles may come in contact with fisheries and their gear.

Sumatran tiger protection

The tiger is an iconic species, admired around the world for its beauty and strength. Sadly, this also makes it a lucrative target for the illegal wildlife trade. Every single part of a tiger – from its whiskers to its tail – can be traded and sold on the black market. We’ve lost over 95% of these endangered big cats since the start of the 20th century, and in 2010, their numbers plummeted to as few as 3,200. We’ve managed to halt the decline in recent years and are excited to say that, in 2016, for the first time in conservation history, the global population of wild tigers increased to an estimated 3,900.

This success is largely due to increased conservation efforts in the key countries that have seen an increase in their tiger numbers; countries such as India, Russia, Bhutan and Nepal. But, south-east Asian countries are still at imminent risk of losing their tigers if these governments do not take action immediately. This includes the Indonesian government. With only around 450 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, restricted to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, this subspecies is listed as critically endangered. It is holding on for survival in the remaining patches of forest on the island, where deforestation and poaching are still an ever present threat.

WWF has been working to protect Sumatran tiger habitat for over 20 years. There is competition for the use of land, with extreme pressure from the logging industry.

In 1995, they played a key role with other conservation groups in helping create Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, part of a landscape called ‘Thirty Hills`. This was a primary spot for tigers, and it is believed this landscape is currently home to about 30 Sumatran tigers.

By the start of this century, Sumatra had lost over half its forests, but Thirty Hills still contained amazing, intact forest. As the forest disappeared elsewhere in Sumatra, more and more biodiversity was moving into Thirty Hills, and demand for its resources increased.

The opportunity came when the Indonesian government created a new kind of concession, or lease, on government-owned forest land. We worked with the government to get critical parts of Thirty Hills re-zoned as a ‘conservation concession’. This required strong support in Indonesia which we gained from the former president, local political leaders, the provincial governor, communities and local people. The efforts were also supported by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. The actor and WWF board member championed the cause and helped bring attention to the need to save Thirty Hills.

The Thirty Hills Company is now responsible for protecting its forest from illegal loggers and other threats – just like a logging company would be. The company has hired anti-poaching patrols and forest protection monitoring groups, and is now using small conservation drones to fly over the landscape to keep an eye out for poaching and illegal logging. The Thirty Hills Company has the responsibility to manage and protect this concession for at least 60 years.

Trillion Trees

Trillion Trees is an unprecedented collaboration between three of the world’s largest conservation organisations – WWF, BirdLife International, and the Wildlife Conservation Society – to help end deforestation and restore tree cover. Our partnership is founded on our commitment to a shared vision, and the belief that working together we can achieve more than we can individually.

Tree cover is an essential part of what makes Earth a healthy and prosperous home for people and wildlife, but the global stock has fallen – and continues to fall – dramatically. In fact, we are still losing 10 billion trees per year.

The consequences? More carbon emitted and less absorbed, dwindling freshwater stores, altered rainfall patterns, fewer nutrients to enrich soils, weakened resilience to extreme events and climate change, shrinking habitat for wildlife and other biodiversity, insufficient wood supply to meet rising demand, harsher local climates, and harder lives for more than one billion forest-dependent peoples across the world.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The two key steps that will reverse these trends – keeping existing trees standing, and restoring trees to the places they once grew – are within our capabilities.

Visit the Trillion Trees website

Download the brochure

South Georgia habitat restoration

Established in 2005 the South Georgia Heritage Trust exists to conserve the spectacular wildlife and historical heritage of the island of South Georgia, some 170 kilometres long, located in the South Atlantic Ocean approximately 1,300 kilometres east south east of the Falkland Islands. Introduced, alien species are a major cause of native biological diversity loss worldwide and their impacts are especially severe on island ecosystems where invasive rodents are responsible for a high number of extinctions and ecosystem changes.

On South Georgia rats and mice were inadvertantly introduced from sealing and whaling ships in the 19th and 20th centuries. Since that time they have thrived and devasted the bird population by consuming eggs and chicks and destroying habitat. Rats have particularly impacted the endemic South Georgia Pipit. Blue Petrels, Antarctic and Fairy Prions, Diving Petrels and South Georgia Pintails have also been affected as these birds nest on open ground or in burrows allowing easy access to eggs and chicks.

The objectives of the project are to remove every single rodent from 1,000 square kilometres of infested land thereby safeguarding seabirds from future attack and thereby facilitating the return of millions of seabirds to there traditional nesting sites. Restore Our Planet has provided funding to help with the above as well as to assist in clearing one of the old whaling stations.

In 2018 this project, the biggest in the world to eradicate dangerous invasive species was declared a success. This remote island is now clear of the rats and mice that had devastated its wildlife for nearly 250 years.

Scientists hope the success could become an inspiration and model for other projects around the world to eliminate invasive species, which in the worst cases can drive native animals to extinction.

Iberian Lynx habitat protection

The Iberian Lynx is the most endangered big cat in the world. Its population decimated by habitat fragmentation, centuries of human persecution and vanishing prey.

WWF’s objectives, in order to help conserve the last remaining Lynx, are to stabilise and increase the remaining breeding populations, and ensure that adequate areas of Mediterranean forest are protected in order to guarantee the long-term viability of the Iberian Lynx.

Since 2002 the territories of 8 female lynxes have been restored with the birth of over 50 kittens.

Camera traps have been used to record each individual and to better understand those that remain. Also radio collars enable lynxes to be followed as they move into new territories.This helps prevent poaching and also to identify which roads are too dangerous to cross.

WWF has been managing a captive breeding programme and releasing lynxes to formally occupied habitats. By mid 2015 45 captive-bred lynxes had been released. In particular the authorities are being encouraged to remain vigilant as poaching and road kills remain a threat. The new population in Extremadura is already growing with two of the released females having six cubs in early 2017.

In 2001 when Restore provided funding towards this project there were fewer than 100 lynx left. By 2017 there were over 300.

Ambatotsirongorongo Forest Restoration

Located on the coast of southern Madagascar ( approx. 30 kms west of Tolanaro )and opening to the Indian Ocean, Ambatotsirongorongo Forest ( AF ), a Protected Area in the process of creation, extends across four Rural Communes, namely Sarisambo, Ankaramena, Ranopiso and Analapatsy. Despite its relatively small size AF ( project area 673.3 ha ), which is divided into three fragments, is particularly rich in both flora and fauna. Recent inventories show 220 species of flora and 17 mammal species including 7 species of lemur, 56 species of herpetofaunic have been identified including 16 species of amphibians and 40 species of reptiles. Of the 59 bird species, 20 are endemic to Madagascar.

Today, further to various pressures, anthropic mainly, the areas covered by the forest fragments have dangerously decreased so the existence of that biodiversity is seriously threatened.

The objectives of this project are to restore the forest area and ensure its long term viability. The main intervention strategies involve: a participatory approach with the involvement of all communities and stakeholders; the promotion of a nursery specialist job as a new income-generating activity; capacity building in forest restoration techniques; monthly based monitoring.

Ultimately it is envisaged this will result in a community owned project with 310.2 ha of restored forest ( protected 363 ha ), income-generating activity via the nursery and the local expertise to continue in the future.

Restore Our Planet has agreed support for the five years of this project.

Tigers Forever Initiative – habitat protection

The Wildlife Conservation Society works throughout the world to save ‘Living Landscapes’ – large wild ecosystems that are amongst the most biologically important regions on earth. Over the past 100 years WCS has helped governments around the world create more than 130 parks and protected areas, spanning hundreds of thousands of square miles.

Restore Our Planet’s support was focused at protecting tiger habitats. Tigers are critically endangered today having been reduced to 5% of their former abundance in just 100 years. Restore Our Planet’s support has helped allow WCS to take the lead in creating synergy among their individual tiger projects to bolster their impact on tiger conservation at the global level.

This has resulted in the formation of the ‘Tigers Forever’ initiative. This initiative is an ambitious programme aimed at increasing tiger populations across key WCS sites by 50% over 10 years. The focus being India, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, China and Malaysia. Activities supported include identifying and protecting critical habitats, training park guards and educational campaigns about traditional medicines.